Dogs Help Us Be the Greatest Version of Ourselves UPDATED COMMENTS

Karen B. London, PhD, is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer whose clinical work over the last 17 years has focused on the evaluation and treatment of serious behavioral problems in dogs, especially aggression. Karen has been writing the behavior column for The Bark since 2012 and wrote The Bark’s training column and various other articles for eight years before that. She is an adjunct professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University, and teaches a tropical field biology course in Costa Rica. Karen writes an animal column, The London Zoo, which appear inThe Arizona Daily Sun and is the author of five books on canine training and behavior. She is working on her next book, which she expects to be published in 2017.

Photo by Paolo G


Here is an additional short commentary from Pet Partners concerning the positive effect on humans who have and love their fur babies.    Our pets do make a huge difference in our lives. I know my Bella helped me greatly after my late husband passed away in 2010.  I could not go home to an empty house.  I was devastated.  I went to my son’s house and we searched the internet for a pup.   I fell in love with Bella the minute  saw her .   After picking her up in Newark Airport I was able to bring my new little love into our home.  I don’t know what would have happened to me if I didn’t have her.   She is now my 8 yr old Mobility Service Dog and my gift from heaven.   



Benefits of the Human-Animal Bond  


The human-animal bond is a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals that positively influences the health and well-being of both. While many of us intuitively understand the benefits of positive interactions with animals in our lives, an emerging body of research is recognizing the impact the human-animal bond can have on individual and community health.

Just a few examples of therapy animals improving the physical, social, and emotional health of clients:


  • A therapy dog has a positive effect on patients’ pain level and satisfaction with their hospital stay following total joint arthroplasty (Harper, 2014) [1].
  • Fibromyalgia patients spending time with a therapy dog instead of in an outpatient waiting area at a pain management facility showed significant improvements in pain, mood and other measures of distress (Marcus, 2013) [2].
  • A walking program that matched sedentary adults with therapy animals resulted in an increase in walking over a 52 week graduated intervention with the participants stating their motivation for adherence was “the dogs need us to walk them” (Johnson, 2010) [3].
  • The presence of an animal can significantly increase positive social behaviors among children with autism spectrum disorder (O’Haire, 2013) [4].
  • Children made fewer errors in match-to-sample categorization task in the presence of a dog relative to a stuffed dog or human (Gee, 2010) [5]. Similar studies may indicate presence of a dog serves as both a source of motivation and a highly salient stimulus for children, allowing them to better restrict their attention to the demands of the task (Gee, 2012) [6].
  • Therapy animals in pediatric cancer studies improved motivation to participate in treatment protocol, to maintain their motivation over time, and to want to “get better” or stay optimistic (Sobo, 2006) [13], (Barker, 2008) [14].

Benefits extend to our companion animals and the presence of pets in our lives:


  • Pet ownership, perhaps by providing social support, lowers blood pressure response to mental stress (Allen, 2001) [7].
  • Pet owners have higher one-year survival rates following heart attacks (Friedmann, 1980, 1995) [8,9].
  • Recognizing and nurturing the connection between animals and humans has potential implications for individual stability and health, improved economic outputs and healthcare cost savings (Takashima, 2014) [10]. This conclusion was based on a number of studies.
  • Pet ownership, particularly dog ownership, may be reasonable for reduction in cardiovascular disease risk (Levine, 2013) [11].
  • Pet ownership was associated with a reduced risk for Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and diffuse large cell lymphoma (Trahan, 2008) [12].
  • Human health savings of $3.86 billion over 10 years have been linked to pet ownership as related to a decrease in doctor visits in studies in Austria and Germany (Heady, 2002) [15].

Whether it is pet ownership that gives us cause to exercise, offers an antidote for loneliness, and gives us loving companions to care for, or animal-assisted interventions that improve motivation to participate in treatment and lessen worry, anxiety, and pain, we recognize that animals can influence not just our happiness but also our health.


My Bella




  1. Lee Xin Yi

    Thanks for the article! Do check out my website

    1. (Post author)

      You are welcome Lee. I did check out your website. It is awesome. Thanks for the information


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